Peck's personal Web site
in June, in bloom
observations in the Swiss Jura
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Jura mountains and hollows around Mont Tendre are mainly karst, to wit, "an
area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes,
underground streams, and caverns". Locally, in the Jura as in Leysin, this
is called "lapiés", apparently a pre-French celtic word.
knows as much about karst formations as anyone -- witness the famous Skocjan
caves Ramsar site -- indeed, the geological term "karst" is rumored
to be a back-formation from the Slovenian province of Krast. So here's the Slovenian
delegate (who's also the director of the Skocjan National Park) seizing the opportunity to view the local wonders, and testing out her
camera in anticipation.
luck, the camera test
came up with a wasted shot -- that's just our guide for the day, but there's more
to be seen as we traverse the green meadows on our way to Mont
Tendre. The Supreme Standing Committee of the Convention on Wetlands will
be convening in sadness tomorrow, 6 June 2005, for its 31st meeting, and the Slovenian
delegate is also the chairperson of the whole thing, so we feel a special responsibility
to get her back on time to drop the opening gavel.
many scientists, the Slovenian delegate notices things that the rest of us laymen
don't, as above. What could it be?
tiny, it's small, it's nearly invisible, but seems to be fascinating nonetheless.
There it is: previously thought to be extinct.
hiking terms, this is obviously not a foot race, because scientists are easily
distracted by all kinds of things along the way.
I LOVE mountain flowers in the spring, DOTE on them, and they
all look, though beautiful, the SAME to me. With a scientist in the party, we
learn that we've seen some thirty different mountain flowers along the way, some
perhaps never seen before. Note (above) that one of these is white, whereas the
other is blue, and some are yellow. These are telltale signs of different kinds
Mont Tendre in the offing, with hikers on the ridgeline like the final scenes
of Bergmann's The Seventh Seal, dancing off with Death leading them on a cord.
view back the way we've come, towards La Dôle. Note the little flowers.
narrator pauses to say something but needs just a few moments to recall what it
was. But there's no time for that now.
amused, the Slovenian delegate photographs one of our Swiss "don't pick up
the live munitions" signs for hikers. Yeah, like Slovenians don't have live
Serbian munitions lying underfoot.
karst enthusiasts can appreciate this limestone platform covered with a spongey
sort of vegetation, and distinguish it from . . .
one without the spongey sort of vegetation on it.
a connoisseur of karst platforms, as we wander somewhat lost down through the
Creux d'Enfer de Druchaux, looking for memorable, noteworthy features for Slovenia's
representative to take home and taunt her karstic colleagues with.
the one we were looking for -- we stumbled upon it by purest accident whilst lost,
but pretended we'd planned it all along. This "gouffre" in Druchaux
is on Internet lists of the world's best and the hole goes down to just near the
bottom of China.
caves with water in them, otherwise known as "Zk(a) Karst and other
subterranean hydrological systems, marine/coastal" or "Zk(b) Karst
and other subterranean hydrological systems, inland", were added to the Ramsar
Classification System of Wetland
Type by the Parties' adoption of Resolution
VII.13 in San José, Costa Rica, in 1999. The delegate and
her Slovenian colleagues masterminded that innovation, and now wet caves all over
eastern Europe are being added to the Ramsar network of protected areas faster
than the present narrator can keep up with adding them to the Ramsar List.
understandable, therefore, that any Slovenian, particularly this one, should feel
impelled to peer more closely down into this world-famous "subterranean hydrological
system, inland", whilst the Americans in the party back off a bit, take pictures,
and keep whining "Careful now! Not too close!"
would have thought that the barbed wire was intended to "send a message",
as Bush would say, but scientists can't be prevented from their work . . .
. . wherever it may lead them. ["Careful now! Not too close!"]
scientists may be amused to learn that the lens
cover was still on and none of these photos came out at all. The present narrator
was already forming phrases in his mind to explain to the Standing Committee tomorrow
that the chairperson would not be presiding today or ever.
Glacière de St-Livres
to supply a little context, is a photo of the Glacière
de St-Livres in April 2004, that is to say, the defacement on the surface
of the earth, bounded by a little fence with a convenient gate in it for people
who want to leap down into it.
since then, someone's thoughtfully built a stairway and viewing platform halfway
down, and naturally the Slovenian colleague takes advantage of the opportunity,
whilst the narrator busies himself with rewinding the film and making sure that
the water flasks are secure, keeping up with the weather bulletins, retying his
shoelaces, shouting down encouraging advice, etc.
poised, waiting for something to happen, vigilant and alert.
poised, ready to pounce on the least suggestion of movement or action, something
happening down there, but, as the sun begins sinking into the west, and the dinner
gong can almost be heard sounding from many kilometres away . . .
snap this last action-packed photo and head home.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative,
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 8 October 2005, revised 5 May
2008, 10 January 2014.